Opera vs. Google Chrome

Compare these browsers' biggest features

Opera vs Chrome
 Lifewire 

A lot of web browsers are vying for your attention. How do you know which one's right for you? Well, let's start with Opera and Google Chrome. The Opera web browser is built on Google's Chromium engine, so it shares some DNA with its competitor. Chrome has become the world's go-to web browser, accounting for the majority of the global internet browser market. But, how do you choose one over the other?

Overall Findings

Opera
  • Built-in ad blocker.

  • Can pop out any video in a separate window and watch it while browsing the web.

  • A virtual private network (VPN) is built in.

  • Battery-saving mode promises longer browsing.

  • Compatible with many Chrome extensions.

  • Turbo feature compresses data to make web pages run faster.

Chrome
  • User friendly, with continuous support from Google.

  • Preinstalled on all Android and Chromebook devices.

  • Highly customizable, with extensions and themes available on the Chrome Web Store.

  • Part of the Google ecosystem.

  • It's a resource hog.

  • Features like ad blockers and VPNs require third-party installations.

These are both great browsers, and they have much more in common than they have differences. For example, they both offer popular features such as:

  • Tabbed browsing
  • Private browsing
  • A password manager
  • Data syncing across devices
  • Extensions and themes
  • Tab pinning

Chrome is the go-to web browser for the majority of internet users. As of April 2019, it has nearly 70% of the desktop browser market share worldwide, according to Statcounter. It's the default browser for Android and the backbone of the operating system on Chromebook devices, which helps explain why it's so popular.

Opera began as a research project at Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor in 1994. A year later, its creators founded their own company with the belief that everyone should be able to browse the web on any device. These days, Opera markets itself as an alternative to Chrome. People who want to make the switch from Chrome to Opera can automatically import their data and take advantage of some of the latter's more unique features.

So, you've seen the similarities between Opera and Chrome. But, it's their differences that will help you decide.

Add blocking: Check to Opera

Opera
  • Built-in ad blocker.

  • Increased browsing speed.

Chrome
  • Ad blocking requires a third-party extension.

Unlike in Chrome, where if you want an adblocker you have to download it as an extension, Opera comes with an integrated adblocker. In fact, Opera is the first major browser to build ad blocking into the browser engine. The result is quicker page loads and a faster overall browsing experience.

VPN: It's Built In With Opera

Opera
  • The included free, unlimited VPN provides an extra layer of security on public Wi-Fi networks.

  • The VPN feature results in low network performance

Chrome
  • VPN service requires a third-party extension.

As with the ad blocker, Opera is the only major browser with a built-in VPN. It's available without a subscription, and unlike Chrome, no third-party extension is required. The VPN does have some great features: For example, you can use it in a private browsing window, you can mask your physical locations, and it can block cookies.

The trade-off of extra security, however, is decreased speed and performance.

Effect on Battery Life: Opera Has the Edge

Opera
  • Battery-saving mode promises up to 1 extra hour of run time compared with Chrome.

Chrome
  • Your RAM will take a hit when you run Chrome.

Chrome has long been accused of being a memory hog. Unfortunately, those accusations are true. Chrome is more than just a search engine: It's a collection of services and extensions that enable Chrome to provide a powerful multimedia experience. But, each one of those services and extensions has an impact on your RAM and processing speed.

Opera has sought to provide a longer browsing experience through a feature it calls Batter Saver. This feature works by temporarily disabling plug-ins you don't need and reducing background activity while the browser is on. Battery Saver also monitors your computer's battery status and warns you when the battery reaches 20%.

Watching Video: Opera's Pop-Out Window Rocks

Opera
  • Watch videos in a separate pop-out window.

Chrome
  • See picture-in-picture with a third-party extension.

As if we need more ways to multitask, Opera offers an integrated feature called Video Pop-Out. With it, when you watch an online video, you have the option of seeing it in its own floating window that you can position above the web page you're viewing.

Chrome offers a similar experience through Google's Picture-in-Picture Extension, available from the Chrome Web Store. Note, however, that the extension works only in the desktop version of Chrome.

Final Verdict: You Can't Really Lose With Either One

Chrome is a fine choice for most people; not only is it the default browser on Google devices, but it's also user-friendly and highly customizable through the thousands of Chrome extensions and themes available on the Chrome Web Store. Chrome is an especially good choice if you're a fan of the Google ecosystem of apps (Gmail, Drive, etc.). You can create a Google account for free and sync your information across all your devices.

If you have an older computer or a sluggish internet connection, you might want to give Opera a try, instead. Because it's built on the Chromium engine, Opera can use many extensions and add-ons designed for Chrome but is less taxing on your device's memory than Chrome. In addition, its turbo feature can speed up web browsing by compressing data found on websites. It's also a good choice for laptop users looking to save a bit of battery life.